Turning finally to the 50PS8000’s picture quality, it’s both slightly disappointing and pretty impressive all at the same time. Disappointing in that it doesn’t quite live up to all the TV’s specification, yet impressive in that it’s at times very good for the TV’s price.
Let’s get the good news sorted first. Kicking off with the picture’s impressive brightness, which lets pictures explode off the screen in a way you certainly don’t get with Panasonic’s recently reviewed new (admittedly low-end) P37X10 plasma TV.
Also an attraction, as expected, is the sheer extent to which you can adjust the 50PS8000’s picture quality. It really is possible to make pictures look like they’re coming from two, three, four or even five completely different TVs by careful tweakage of the endless options available. And although arriving at your preferred settings might take a while, there’s a good chance that at least one of the 50PS8000’s picture identities will please you.
The set also boasts some well-saturated and vigorous colours, which add further to the sense of dynamism the picture builds. As do the TV’s black levels, which get deep enough to provide a suitably profound counterpoint to the screen’s rich colours.
For the most part the THX picture preset is a notable success, too. Some may find its colour temperature a touch warm for their tastes, but it actually seems to sit pretty closely to the D65 video standard.
HD images, meanwhile, are also impressively sharp. Not as aggressively so as with the best high-end plasma or LCDs, perhaps, but enough to do justice to HD without having to look gritty, noisy or forced.
Finally in the plus column, the 50PS8000’s ‘600Hz’ operation does its work without generating serious processing side effects. Occasionally there’s a small shimmering effect around the edges of particularly fast-moving objects, but this is sufficiently rare and low-level that I personally didn’t have a major issue with it.
Kicking off the things I DO have an issue with, though, is image retention. A once common problem with plasma technology, LG now seems to be the only big plasma brand that really struggles with this issue. For instance, as the bright white Sony and blue Blu-ray logos that make up my Blu-ray player’s ‘screen saver’ disappeared from the screen as a disc started to play, both logos remained visible as shadowy ghosts for some seconds over the dark images that opened the disc.
I haven’t seen evidence to suggest that this retention issue could easily give rise to permanent screen burn, and LG has provided three techniques for reducing the problem: White and colour washes, and an orbiter that shifts the picture around slightly. But I’d certainly suggest extreme caution about exposing the screen to bright logos or static video game graphics over extended periods, especially in the TV’s first 100 hours or so of use.